Taco Bell is the first ever to use a promoted tweet to make an official statement about their lawsuit.
I arrived to work exceptionally early today. I got my tabs and windows up and running and noticed something that looked completely normal. Taco Bell was promoting a tweet. Sweet! I was hoping for a free taco. Or, better yet, a free Nachos Bell Grande!
Turned out that this promoted tweet was much different than any other I had ever seen. Taco Bell was using their promoted tweet to release an official company legal statement regarding a class action lawsuit from a California woman regarding the quality of their beef. No free tacos. No half off discounts. Rather, a one page statement of legal jargon and adamant statements by Taco Bell’s President and Chief Concept Officer.
Should Taco Bell Promote a Tweet about their Lawsuit?
I’m not here to argue the validity or falsehoods of this lawsuit. In all honestly, its not even going to detour me from eating there. I love their food. In fact, this has prompted my co-workers and I to go there later today for lunch. And we’ll all probably check in on Foursquare from there.
To me, the debate at hand, from a marketing and public relations standpoint, is whether or not using a tool like a promoted tweet is the appropriate or effective way to issue such a statement. This was the first I had even heard that Taco Bell was being sued over such a claim. Would I have even found out about it had they, themselves, not pushed the issue in front of me? When I notified my boss of the tweet and apparent lawsuit, he knew nothing either. However, my other two co-workers did have knowledge of the lawsuit. They had heard about it on the radio before today.
At first I thought it was an ill-advised move. Why go around broadcasting your controversies? And why would you pay a platform like Twitter to do so?
Then my public relations degree kicked in (Yeah! BYU, class of ’06). The more I thought about it I have only one word: Brilliant! Yeah, Taco Bell is going to inform more people about the lawsuit than probably would’ve found out about it in the end, but it’s better that you be the one informing them than a bunch of angry customers, and bloggers, and Twitter users, and news achors, and Facebook updates and aspiring writers.
Just consider the speed at which Twitter and Facebook function? It takes literally minutes for someone or something to be a national trend for all the wrong reasons. With today’s social media boom, wrong reports and ill-speaking travels like wildfire in windy conditions. If the history of public relations and publicity has taught us anything, it’s better to get out in front of an issue before you have to chase it down.
Still a bold move? Yes. I had never seen anything like it. Was it a wise, bold move? Only time will really tell. But for now, I say definitely.